Reigning BMX racing gold medalist Connor Fields of the United States was carried off on a stretcher after crashing in the third semifinal heat at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday morning.
Fields was fourth after his opening two heats and landed hard off a jump heading into the first turn in the third run. The 28-year-old from Las Vegas slammed into the turn and lay on the track as medical personnel rushed out to help him.
Fields was attended to for several minutes before being carried away. He qualified for the finals but will not be able to race.
Fields became the first American BMX rider to win gold at the 2016 Rio Games and was a favorite to win it again in Tokyo.
System not burdened
The International Olympic Committee’s medical director said COVID-19 cases at the Tokyo Games are not burdening the city’s medical system.
Officials said that from July 1 through Wednesday, 198 people accredited for the Tokyo Games had tested positive for COVID-19, including 23 athletes. Three of the new cases from Wednesday were athletes staying in the Olympic Village.
Olympic organizers said two people among the 198 were receiving hospital treatment. Neither of those two cases was severe.
Medical director Richard Budgett said care for athletes is being provided by their own team medical staff and a polyclinic at the village.
He said he’s confident “the Olympics are being run without actually affecting that essential secondary care and hospital provision” for residents of Japan.
Tokyo, meanwhile, reported 3,177 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, setting an all-time high and exceeding 3,000 for the first time.
Experts said Tokyo’s surge was being propelled by the new, more contagious Delta variant of the virus. There was no evidence of the disease being transmitted from Olympics participants to the general public.
Track team quarantine
The fragile nature of an Olympics during the pandemic came into sharp focus Thursday when the entire Australian track team spent time in a brief quarantine after American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks pulled out of the Tokyo Games because of a positive COVID-19 test.
The news about Kendricks — a two-time world champion and the American record-holder — deprived the meet of one of its high-profile athletes, then rippled across the sport, which was scheduled to open less than 24 hours after the announcement.
He was one of dozens of athletes on the training track this week, and Australia announced it had put its entire 54-person team (41 athletes and 13 officials) in isolation and subjected it to testing after three athletes reported having casual contact with Kendricks.
A few hours after that, the Australian Olympic Committee announced the trio had tested negative and all but those three had been cleared to return to normal activities.
The three athletes remained in isolation, allowed to resume practice under strict distancing protocols. Australia said everyone was expected to be able to compete.
“Once again, abundant caution and our strict protocols continue to keep the team safe,” Australian team leader Ian Chesterman said. “We want every Australian athlete to be in a position to have their Olympic moment. We will continue to be vigilant.”
Shortly after Kendricks’s positive test was announced, another pole vaulter, Germán Chiaraviglio of Argentina, said he, too, was out because of a positive test.
German official sent home
A German cycling official was suspended and will be sent home from the Olympics after using a racist slur during the men’s time trial.
German cycling federation sports director Patrick Moster had been overseeing the cycling squad in Tokyo. He used the slur while urging German rider Nikias Arndt to catch up to riders from the African nations of Algeria and Eritrea during Wednesday’s time trial. It was heard on TV broadcasts and widely condemned in Germany.
Moster later apologized and the German team initially indicated he would stay in Tokyo, but then said Thursday he would be sent home.
German Olympic committee president Alfons Hormann said he considers Moster’s apology to be “sincere” but that he “breached the Olympic values.”
Hormann added that “fair play, respect and tolerance ... are non-negotiable” for the German team.
The IOC, whose president Thomas Bach is German, welcomed the decision to send Moster home and said it had “inquired about the issue” with the German team before the decision was announced.
Straka starts fast
Sepp Straka made four birdies in his last six holes for an 8-under-par 63 to tie an Olympic record — not all that historical considering golf returned only in 2016 — for a one-shot lead over Jazz Janewattananond of Thailand after the first round of the men’s tournament.
Thomas Pieters, who finished one spot out of a bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, was sick Wednesday and saw the front nine at Kasumigaseki Country Club only during practice rounds. He shot 30 on the back nine for a 65.
“I kind of didn’t expect this today,” Pieters said. “I felt horrible this morning even when I woke up, so maybe it’s just because I wasn’t thinking about bad shots or places not to hit it. My caddie told me, ‘Hit it there,’ and I did. I kept it simple.”
Carlos Ortiz of Mexico also had a 65 in ideal scoring conditions on a course so pristine it didn’t have a divot when players first began arriving because it was closed for two months.
Americans Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele each were at 68, and that was quite a feat for Reed.
He was a last-minute replacement when Bryson DeChambeau had a positive COVID-19 test, and because of his testing requirements, Reed didn’t arrived at the course until Wednesday afternoon. That left enough time to ride in a cart to look at the last four holes.
“Adrenaline got me going early on today, but really the body hung in there a lot better than I expected,” Reed said. “The swing actually held in there all day. A couple of mistakes out there, not really knowing spots to hit. But besides that, it wasn’t too bad.”
British Open champion Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy each shot 69, which was only good for a tie for 20th on such a low scoring day. Justin Thomas wouldn’t have minded that. His Olympic debuted featured 18 pars.
Djokovic reaches semifinals
Novak Djokovic is into the medal rounds of the Olympic tennis tournament.
The top-ranked Serb rolled past home favorite Kei Nishikori of Japan, 6-2, 6-0, to reach the semifinals and extend his bid for a Golden Slam.
Steffi Graf in 1988 is the only tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic gold in the same calendar year.
Djokovic has already won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon this year and needs the Tokyo Games title and the US Open trophy to complete the Golden Slam.
Djokovic’s semifinal opponent will be Alexander Zverev of Germany.
Australia center Aron Baynes will miss the remainder of the Olympics with a neck injury, a significant blow for the medal hopefuls who have already qualified for next week’s knockout stage. The team said the former Celtic got hurt during Wednesday’s game against Italy and will “recover in the coming weeks.” The injury means Australia will finish the tournament with 11 players available. “I am really disappointed that I can’t continue in the Olympics,” Baynes said through the team. “I along with the rest of the team have been working so hard in our quest for an historic Olympic medal and I am gutted that I can’t complete the journey with the boys, but I have every confidence that they will get the job done.” Australia’s men have never medaled in major international competition, either the Olympics or the Basketball World Cup. Its best finish in either of those events is fourth, something it has managed four times … Ricky Rubio scored 26 points and Spain remained unbeaten in the Olympics by beating Argentina, 81-71, on Thursday in a rematch of the Basketball World Cup. Sergio Llull added 10 for Spain, which improved to 2-0 and will face Luka Doncic and Slovenia on Sunday for the top spot from Group C.
Ross, Klineman advance
Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman moved on to the beach volleyball knockout round after having just a little bit of trouble against the Netherlands. Starting in a drizzle and finishing in a downpour, the No. 2-seeded Americans lost the opening set of the match, 22-20. It was the first set they have lost in the Tokyo Games. They trailed, 12-9, in the second before scoring four straight points and seven of the next eight to take it 21-17. In the tiebreaking set, they pulled away to beat the winless Dutch pair of Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, 15-5 … The US women’s volleyball team won its third straight match and is assured of a spot in the quarterfinals. The Americans beat Turkey, 25-19, 25-20, 17-25, 20-25, 15-12, to join Italy at 3-0 in Pool B. The US is seeking its first gold medal in the sport and is off to a good start in Tokyo with wins over Argentina, defending champion China, and Turkey. Italy, Serbia, and Brazil have also clinched spots in the quarters with the other four spots still to be determined … Paula Reto of South Africa tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t play in the women’s golf competition next week. She had not yet left for Tokyo … Slovakia’s Zuzana Rehak Stefecekova set an Olympic record in women’s trap to deny the US a third straight shotgun gold medal. Rehak Stefecekova hit 43 of 50 targets on a breezy day at Asaka Shooting Range, beating American Kayle Browning. Alessandro Perilli took bronze to earn the first medal in San Marino’s 61-year Olympic history. Americans Vincent Hancock and Amber English opened the shotgun events by sweeping skeet on Tuesday.